Queering gestation
June 16, 2016 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend resources for people whose pregnancies and related other life changes messed with their sexual orientation and/or gender identity?

I'm having a hard time grappling with orientation and identity issues that have come up around my pregnancy. I'm feeling very alone, but in discussions around queer women and pregnancy I feel like this occasionally comes up in the periphery as a thing to watch out for, or people hint that it's something they've struggled with.

Past experience and anecdotal evidence indicates that this may very well be temporary/hormonal, so I hesitate to upset any apple-carts based on what could be a blip, but it would be nice to have someone to talk to about it who's going through the same thing or has been there. But googling "pregnancy turned me gay", for instance, has not helped me find any support groups...shockingly enough. Ha.

Is there a name for this? Are there communities, forums, resources out there? I feel like the sample sizes involved are small enough that the likelihood of finding a therapist locally who has any experience with it is vanishingly small, but the internet is a big place and I'm hoping there's something out there for other people in this weird boat I'm in.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if this and this and this are along the lines of what you're looking for? In the second link, the last paragraph references some other resources that may or may not be helpful. I guess they have more to do with people's experiences rather than being communities or forums, but maybe even reading about others' experiences can get you started in finding the spaces you want.
posted by foxjacket at 12:52 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this and this and this are along the lines of what you're looking for?

I doubt it - I got the impression that the OP is saying she's typically straight and has developed queer feelings during her pregnancy.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:56 PM on June 16, 2016

Increased sex drive during pregnancy is definitely a thing. And trans people often report changes in their sexuality after starting hormones. So... I wouldn't be surprised if the pregnancy is either enhancing something that was already there in the background, or adding a new twist.

Given the lack of info out there, it might be worth finding a therapist or center that specializes in LGBT issues. (Going to them does not mean you're now Officially Gay, so don't worry about that!)
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:08 PM on June 16, 2016

(Unfortunately, "straight until pregnancy" just returns a bunch of stuff about hair texture!)
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:09 PM on June 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

Maybe this is helpful:

Little research has been conducted on the effect of hormones on motivation for same-sex sexual contact. One study observed the relationship between sexual motivation in lesbian and bisexual women and period-related changes in circulating estrogen concentrations. Lesbian women who were at the estrogen peak of their fertile cycle reported increased motivation for sexual contact with women, whereas bisexual women reported only a slight increase in same-sex motivated sexual contact during peak estrogen levels. Interestingly, both lesbian and bisexual women showed decreases in motivation for other-sex sexual contact at peak estrogen levels, with greater changes in the bisexual group than the lesbian group.

Obviously not an exact parallel to your situation, but it does appear that increased estrogen and progesterone can lead to "increased motivation for sexual contact with women" among women who've previously self-ID'd as non-straight. But also note that this study is very small, and this effect could also apply to women who self-ID as straight, and/or during pregnancy in addition to at the peak of their normal cycles.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2016 [5 favorites]

(I'd also read the abstract of this paper by the same author, because I wish I'd seen it when I was having major confusion about my sexuality!)
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:24 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

there's an account here from a woman who self-describes as "gender fluid" reporting that her dysphoria increased near the start of pregnancy (i think - i'm not 100% sure i am understanding). starts at about the fifth paragraph.

it seems really likely that hormonal changes during pregnancy can do all kinds of things and i am a bit surprised there's not more on this. i was searching for "gender dysphoria during pregnancy" in case that helps any.
posted by andrewcooke at 3:19 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

some kind of resource sheet here saying "Gender dysphoria can become severe during pregnancy, so consider planning for extra emotional support or seek counseling as available" (although i guess you could argue that's different to feeling dysphoria only when pregnant).
posted by andrewcooke at 3:23 PM on June 16, 2016

i want to add (and dare not edit) that i am not assuming / pushing dysphoria onto you. it was just one particular take on gender related to pregnancy that had a few interesting search results.
posted by andrewcooke at 3:26 PM on June 16, 2016

A lot of therapists DO deal with body dysphoria during pregnancy of a variety of kinds (dislike of the intensity of the physical processes, eating disorder residual problems with gaining weight, discomfort with changes in shape/attractiveness/physical being, etc.) and while they may not have have experience specifically with the issues you're having, I think an LGBTQ-friendly therapist who deals with pregnancy body dysphoria in general could probably be very helpful and help you find resources relevant to your specific situation.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:48 PM on June 16, 2016

I didn't feel any more sexual attraction to women during pregnancy than normal - I identify as bisexual and feel more gender fluid in some ways as I get older - but I can tell you that I felt very, very feminine during pregnancy, which is not usual for me, and I wanted to have sex A LOT and I probably would have wanted more sex with women if I was with a woman rather than with my husband. I just wanted to have orgasms all the time during second tri, and it wouldn't have mattered with whom, I don't think. And I was very attracted to really stereotypical "girly" things, too, like dresses and little, cute shoes, and hair doodads and cute bags and such, which are things that I literally NEVER think twice about in my non-pregnant, most of the time life.

The point is, the hormonal fluctuations of pregnancy can do lots of strange and interesting things to you. It's okay. If you feel like you're in crisis, I think Eyebrows McGee's advice about an LGBTQ-friendly therapist is really good.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 5:06 PM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's the hormones. It goes away once the baby is born. Lots of crazy stuff happens when you are growing a person inside of you. You are not only affected by your own hormones but whatever they are producing too. Just as you wouldn't commit to eating any of your weird food cravings for the rest of your life, you shouldn't take these urges as a need to change your life. Wait it out.
posted by myselfasme at 7:06 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Toast had a really great personal essay about this yesterday from the perspective of a genderqueer person whose partner is pregnant, trying to figure out parenting when the parents' gender doesn't work the way society expects, exactly.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:26 PM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have a lesbian friend who developed a sudden, inexplicable and ravenous interest in men for a six-month period during her early 30s. After becoming accidentally pregnant, she gave birth to a much-wanted baby and promptly lost all interest in straight dudes. Hormones do odd things.
posted by fritillary at 7:37 PM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

On the chance that it might apply: I've worked as a therapist for survivors of sexual abuse and assault, and I have read in several places and heard stories from several survivors about how pregnancy triggered feelings about their abuse/assault (often negative feelings of not having full control of their own bodies). And sexual assault/abuse can of course complicate one's overall feelings about one's sexuality. If that does apply to you, a therapist with experience working with sexual trauma, as well as LGBTQ issues (and those specialties actually often overlap), might be helpful.
posted by lazuli at 9:05 PM on June 16, 2016

There was an AskMe thread about a person who was experiencing postpartum gender identity issues. (That poster was also anonymous, so we'll never know how things turned out. But perhaps there's something helpful in the responses.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:09 PM on June 16, 2016

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